On the shore of Lake Tekapo, about a three hours drive South-West of Christchurch, sits the charming and iconic Church of the Good Shepherd.
The church was built as a memorial to the pioneers of the Mackenzie Basin region in 1935, with the foundation stone being laid by the Duke of Gloucester. The builders of the church were given a few instructions for the build. For starters, the site was to be left undisturbed, even the matagouri bushes surrounding the building were to remain. Rocks on the wall line were not to be removed, and the stones that form the walls were to be obtained from within 10 kilometres of the site and were to remain unchipped and in their natural condition. Talk about your tough customer...
But they did it, and just look at it - it's stunning! What it may lack in size, it more than makes up for in appearance.
The church faces North with the altar window perfectly framing the view across the breathtaking turquoise coloured lake, and out to the dramatic snow capped Southern Alps. Lake Tekapo gets its intense colour from fine rock flour (bedrock ground by glaciers) suspended in the water. The church has been home to thousands of weddings, and seen more than its share of visitors - who wouldn't want to get married with that view?
But it got to a point where the view from the alter window was so popular, (and unfortunately because some visitors disrespecting God's house) that there is now a photo ban inside Tekapo's iconic church. You are welcome to enter the church, just make sure you are unplugged.
Close to the church is a bronze sheepdog statue. It was commissioned by the residents of the Mackenzie region in 1968 as a tribute to the hardy dogs - “without the help of which the grazing of this mountain country would be impossible”.
Lake Tekapo is part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve. Because of the lack of light pollution, this area is the perfect place for avid stargazers, and is one of New Zealand’s best places to see Aurora Australis (the Southern Lights) dance across the night sky. This is best seen between April and September (yes…. the cold Winter months unfortunately), and the best viewing spot for this spectacular natural light show is Mount John Observatory which is South facing, perched high on the mountains.
So not only is Tekapo picturesque by day, but it also dazzles by night!
© The Brunette Travels. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Brunette Travels with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.